TAIWAN: Hong Kong Protests Bring Out Supporters in Taiwan

Monday 29 September 2014

Date: 29 September 2014

Type: News

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Keywords: Occupy Centrall

Hundreds people gathered in Taiwan’s capital on Sunday night to support protests for democracy in Hong Kong.

The ongoing protest in Hong Kong was being watched closely across the Taiwan Strait where distrust in mainland China is growing. Last spring, students in Taiwan started the anti-Beijing Sunflower Movement, which led to big protests that were closely watched in Hong Kong.

“I have several friends who are at the protest right now. All they have is plastic wrap to protect their eyes but the police continue to use pepper spray and tear gas on them,” said Ling Sze, a 21 year-old journalism exchange student from Hong Kong’s Chinese University studying in Taiwan. “This is no longer the same Hong Kong that I grew up with.”

With a large screen showing a live broadcast of the demonstration in Hong Kong, rally participants gathered at Liberty Square in downtown Taipei, shouted slogans, such as “give me genuine election” and “civil disobedience without fear,” and sang songs about freedom and human rights while waving their cell phones in the dark in unison.

Kelly Chen, a Taiwanese citizen who worked in Hong Kong for a year in 2010, said she decided to come out and support the former British colony when she saw the police use pepper spray and tear gas on the Hong Kong students.

“I could not believe what I was seeing on television because the Hong Kong I remember was a place where people are allowed to speak their mind,” she said.

According to Black Island Youth Front, one of Taiwan’s local pro-democracy groups that helped shape the anti-China Sunflower Movement initiated by students in Taiwan earlier this year, at least two Taiwan activists were denied visas to enter Hong Kong on Saturday.

“We are very disheartened to see such violence by the Hong Kong police. Although many of us can’t be there in person, we want Hong Kong people to know that they are not alone,” said Huang Yan-ju, one of the leaders of the group.

Ms. Huang said Taiwan people must pay attention to what’s happening in Hong Kong, “because this kind of violent clampdown could also happen in Taiwan if Taiwan ever falls under Chinese rule,” she said.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 during a civil dispute that hasn’t formally ended. Despite the warming trade links between Taipei and Beijing, Taiwanese remain wary of Beijing, which has vowed to take back the self-ruled island by force, if necessary. Political analysts say the collective fear of China’s heavy-handed tactics against its dissidents has helped strengthen ties between social activist groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years.

Beijing has long hoped that successfully integrating Hong Kong into mainland China would help convince Taiwan to return to Chinese rule. But that has grown increasingly unlikely as Taiwan’s democracy has flourished and Hong Kong has felt increasing pressure from China.

During the Sunflower Movement, several groups of Hong Kong students came to Taiwan to offer their personal support.

To stand in solidarity with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, at least local 30 pro-democracy civic groups will also stage another rally in Liberty Square on Wednesday night to show support.###

See online : The Wall Street Journal

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